This year, it’s more expensive than ever to be a fan of a Premier League team. The number of services you’ll have to subscribe to in order to watch every Arsenal game this season is kind of stunning:
- Cable package with NBC Sports Network
- NBC Sports Gold, for those games walled off from NBCSN
- B/R Live, for Europa League
We also just found out that the list is going to increase by one, as ESPN+ has announced today they’ve bought rights to broadcast the FA Cup starting this season. It almost sounds like the Cup was a throw-in when ESPN+ bought rights to Serie A, but either way, that’s yet another competition behind a paywall. I mean, I get it: capitalism is a thing, business is a thing, and soccer is hot right now, so it makes a certain sort of sense that this is happening.
But really, the best way to make something less hot is to overcharge for it, right? I mean, with ESPN+ charging $60/year, on top of the several hundred a cable package costs, the $50/year for NBC Sports Gold, and the $80/year for B/R Live, the cost of soccer fandom is getting pretty ridiculous. And I wonder if restricting access to those who want to pay for it will hurt the growth of the sport in the US overall.
I will say, though, that ESPN+ gives you way more than just Serie A and the FA Cup - for that $5/month, you also get MLS, Championship soccer, and a whole bunch of other sports, so I guess if you had to subscribe to only one of all the services, this would be the one I’d recommend.
Welcome to the brave new world of monetizing every inch of your sports viewing experience!